The lawyers of Hochberg, Costello & Baron have many years of experience in handling Maryland Workers’ Compensation and Federal Workers’ Compensation Claims. We provide prompt legal assistance in acquiring all benefits to which the Claimant may be entitled under the appropriate statutory regulations.
Maryland Workers’ Compensation was established in 1914 to protect the injured employee. It has evolved into a system today which provides injured employees with substantial benefits for both the present and the future. There are five basic benefits to which an injured employee is entitled under Maryland Workers’ Compensation laws.
Payment of Medical Expenses
The first benefit is payment of medical expenses related to the injury for the remainder of the Claimant’s life. It does not matter if the Claimant continues to work for the employer. These benefits are ongoing and may only be terminated upon a settlement or the receipt of a Medical Set Aside (MSA). In any event, the employer and insurer may contest your right to these benefits at any time during the course of the claim. Our office is prepared to pursue these claims on your behalf now and into the future.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
The second benefit is what is known as temporary total disability benefits. These benefits are paid while the employee is disabled and unable to work under a doctor’s care who says the Claimant cannot work. It is of the upmost importance that the Claimant acquire a disability certificate from a doctor to receive these benefits. These benefits are paid at the rate of 2/3 of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped based upon the State’s computation for the average weekly wage for the year of the accident. Additionally, if an individual is able to return to work part time on a temporary basis, the law does provide what is called temporary partial disability benefits. This is paid at the rate of 50% of the difference for the hours missed by the employee.
Reimbursement for Out of Pocket Expenses
The third benefit is reimbursement for out of pocket expenses and transportation expenses. An employee is entitled to receive reimbursement for these expenses. The mileage expenses are for medical care and treatment related to the claim and the amount per mile is set by the Workers’ Compensation Commission each year.
The fourth benefit is vocational rehabilitation. If the injury is so severe that the injured employee is unable to return to his previous position, the employer may be required to find another position for the employee within his physical limitations. If no such position exists, the insurance company may then be required to provide vocational rehabilitation assistance in the form of a vocational counselor to assist the employee in locating new employment within their physical limitations. While an individual is in vocational rehabilitation, they will be receiving 2/3 of their average weekly wage. Vocational rehabilitation may extend for up to two years. If job placement assistance is unsuccessful, the Commission may order retraining or reeducation.
Permanent Partial Disability or Settlement
The final benefit in Workers’ Compensation is an Award of permanent partial disability or settlement. At the conclusion of the claim when an individual has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), the Claimant is entitled to receive an Award of Compensation for their disability. This is measured based upon the fourth edition of the American Medical Association Guidelines and five factors to be considered by the Commissioner in rendering their decision. If a permanent partial disability award is received, the disability portion of the claim remains open for five years from the date of the last payment of that Award and if no additional disability benefits are received, that portion of the claim is closed. Instead of an Award of Compensation, it may be possible for the employee to settle and close the claim. This requires cooperation by the insurance company and employer. In many cases, a settlement is preferred on both sides and whether a claim is appropriate for settlement will be determined based upon the facts of that individual claim.
You Pay No Attorney Fees
Finally, please note that there are no attorney’s fees ever paid directly by a Claimant in a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claim. All fees must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commission of Maryland and are paid out of benefits received from the insurance company.
Regarding Federal Workers’ Compensation, the laws are much more restrictive. There is no insurance company, you deal with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. You may not receive medical care and treatment without prior approval by the Department of Labor, while in Maryland, you may choose your own doctors for treatment. In a Federal Workers’ Compensation Claim, you must file certain forms (CA-7) to acquire temporary total disability benefits and permanent impairment benefits. Any claim for permanent impairment benefits is presented under the American Medical Association Guidelines 6th edition which is much more restrictive than the 4th edition used by the State of Maryland. Finally, in the Federal system, you are not entitled to any impairment benefits for injuries to the musculoskeletal system (head, neck, back) as any permanent impairment awards are only to the arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes and those enumerated by statute. Unlike the Maryland system where the attorney is paid by the insurer and is paid a percentage of the benefits received by the Claimant, under the Federal system, an attorney is not allowed to accept the case on contingency. Therefore, we ask the Claimant for a retainer presently in the amount of $2,000.00 to be placed in escrow and be charged an hourly rate for time worked on their behalf. As indicated previously, this is a very restrictive system rightly tilted against the injured employee.
Hochberg, Costello & Baron is prepared to assist and vigilantly represent each injured employee in pursuit of all of the Workers’ Compensation benefits to which they are entitled.